PhD Student Testimonials

Laura Requena - The Economic Value of Education: Three Statistical Approaches

Picture of Laura RequenaWhy did you choose to do your PhD in the Department of Economics at the University of Sheffield?

I completed a degree in Statistics and Business in the University Carlos III, Madrid Spain. I was granted an Erasmus scholarship to improve my English level; I choose a University based in the UK. I asked my professors in Spain for advice and they all recommended the University of Sheffield because of its prestige. When the Erasmus finished, I started a Master’s degree. As I liked the experience in the University of Sheffield I decided to stay but changed the subject to Economics to improve my career prospects. I completed the MSc in Economics in the department and I really enjoyed the dissertation module from the MSc. At the end of the MSc, after applying for the Graduate Teaching Assistant scholarship that the department was offering to study a PhD they offered me to stay.

The PhD was as a great opportunity to improve my research skills, to develop further my English level and to gain teaching experience.

What would you say were the highlights of your PhD?

Several chapters of my Thesis were presented in several conferences such as WRDTC Fifth Annual Conference 2016, AEDE Madrid 2015, AEDE Badajoz 2016. I received the María Jesús San Segundo Award for the best research paper presented by a either a PhD students or post-doctoral student. I also presented once per year in the departmental PhD conference. Thanks to these presentations constructive feedback was obtained and I felt more prepared for the VIVA at the same time than improving the contents of the Thesis.

The department of Economics allows you to take modules of interest during the PhD that will benefit your research. I took several modules such as Labour Economics and Education Economics in the department. Out of the department, I took modules as part of the Doctoral Development Programme such as Research Consultancy or Research Ethics and Integrity.

As part of the scholarship (Graduate Teaching Assistant) granted by the department I taught the Statistical Methods for Economics tutorials during the PhD and the department offered support to gain teaching skills through several workshops. I also attended Econometric workshops in other Universities such as Bayesian Econometrics at Manchester University. I am very grateful to the department for funding all these activities that allowed me to improve all my work at all times.

What do you think of the research environment in the Department of Economics?

The research environment in the Department is fantastic. There are weekly internal/external seminars where you can see other researchers presenting their papers and this serves as an opportunity to expand your knowledge in other areas/topics and be aware of new econometric techniques. All the academics and members of staff are very friendly and they help you with any issue during the PhD. This department has several professors and this shows a high level of expertise which is always beneficial when receiving feedback.

What do you think about the support you received from your supervisors?

The support received from my supervisors exceeded my expectations. They were great giving me feedback and I felt that they were involved during all the process. We had regular meetings where they answered questions that I had or helped when I was stuck; in addition they gave me very detailed feedback after I sent them a piece of my work. They always encourage me to attend conferences and share my work with other researchers to obtain even more feedback.

How will or has your PhD help you in your career?

After teaching for more than three years I decided to apply for a job in the civil service. At the moment I work for the Office for National Statistics. The PhD helped me in several aspects. During the PhD I gained research skills but I also learnt how to manage my time and how to deal with difficulties and accept feedback. I also improved my writing and presentation skills. All of these skills are highly valued in the labour market. In order to apply for promotion, there are certain positions in the civil service that are only accessible if you have a research based degree such as a PhD.